Big Piney, Wyo. (January 11, 2024) — The National Audubon Society proudly announces Miller Land and Livestock near Big Piney, Wyoming, as the newest ranch in the state to achieve its bird-friendly habitat certification through Audubon's Conservation Ranching program.
The Audubon certification is a testament to the Miller family's commitment to managing their land in a manner that prioritizes birds and biodiversity. Audubon Conservation Ranching, Audubon’s flagship grassland habitat initiative, is a collaboration between ranchers and Audubon to address the steep decline in grassland bird populations. To date, over 100 ranches, spanning nearly 3 million acres nationwide, have earned Audubon Certified status, including 11 ranches and more than 450,000 acres in Wyoming.
Established by the Miller family more than 138 years ago, today the native prairie and sagebrush steppe of Miller Land and Livestock is operated by Mike and Tara Miller and their sons, Will and Wes, and grandsons, Kaleb and Blu – the sixth generation of family stewardship.
The ranch remains deeply rooted in tradition, with cattle rotation occurring on its vast expanse by horseback. This rotational grazing is a foundational element to creating high-quality grassland bird habitat and thus earning the Audubon certification. Audubon worked closely with the Millers to develop a ranch-specific, wildlife-focused grassland management plan for Miller Land and Livestock that centers on strategic, rotational cattle crazing to create a mosaic of high-quality habitat for grassland birds.
Cidney Handy, a Rangeland Ecologist with Audubon Rockies, notes this grazing system tries to replicate the historical role of roaming wild bison, with cattle playing the modern pivotal part in the creation of varied vegetation heights. This approach is vital for accommodating the diverse needs of grassland bird species. For example, short, intense grazing periods create patches of short vegetation suitable for species like the Burrowing Owl and Ferruginous Hawk. Conversely, extended periods of rest from grazing allow for taller habitat structures, benefiting species like the Lark Bunting, Loggerhead Shrike, and Sagebrush Sparrow.
With the certification, beef products from Miller Land and Livestock can now carry the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal, a consumer package label that lets shoppers know products come from lands managed for birds and biodiversity.
About Audubon Conservation Ranching
A wildlife habitat initiative of the National Audubon Society with a unique market connection, Audubon Conservation Ranching aims to stabilize declining grassland bird populations in partnership with ranchers – on whose land 95 percent of grassland birds live. Audubon Conservation Ranching’s enrollment includes over 100 ranches and nearly 3 million acres that have earned status as Audubon Certified bird-friendly land. Incentivizing this habitat work for birds and biodiversity are consumers with an appetite for conservation, who support it with the purchase of products grazed on these lands. Shoppers see a special package designation – the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal – that sets these products apart. For more information, visit www.audubon.org/ranching.